Dragon Ball New Age – Volume 1

dragon ball new age volume 1 cover

Dragon Ball New Age – Volume 1 is a fan manga by an American artist.

How does it compare to Akira Toriyama’s masterpiece?

It’s available in print exclusively on Amazon for $5.99.

What is Dragon Ball New Age?

dragon ball new age malik

Dragon Ball New Age is a fan manga created by the artist known as Malik.

Malik has been writing the manga since 2001 when he became inspired by Dragon Ball Z to create his own story.

New Age has a big following, with readers in over 120 countries and translations into 9 languages. You can read more about its history on this wiki page and receive updates on the official Facebook page.

To my knowledge, Dragon Ball New Age is the first Dragon Ball fan manga to be published in print and in English outside of Japan.

Most artists just publish their work online, but Malik went through the difficult process of learning how to edit and format his work for publication through Amazon Create Space. And I helped a bit with that, so he gave me a special thanks in the front!

This is the first volume of his manga that has been published in print. It contains 4 chapters of the serialized story, plus 2 bonus chapters, with one of them featuring Gokū’s mother, Gine!

He’s already created 33 chapters in the story, so we have more volumes in print to look forward to.

Now let’s begin the review.

The Toriyama Standard

dragon ball new age ki blast kick

Some fans consider Toriyama to be a living god of manga authors, and he’s up there with Osamu Tezuka in fame and quality of work.

Toriyama’s art is beautiful and his writing is exciting and funny. He’s hard to beat.

That’s why I’m going to use the standard of Toriyama’s work to judge this book.

Is it fair to compare any fan manga to the work of Akira Toriyama?

I say yes, because this is what Dragon Ball Z fans want more of, so if you don’t use the original work as the standard, and you just say, “Oh, it’s a fan manga, so it’s not the same,” then I think you’re discrediting the hard work of both the artist’s in question.

Especially if the fan artist tries to draw art that looks like Toriyama’s and write a story that feels like the original.

That’s what Malik attempts to do here, so that’s the standard I’m using.

Let’s put on our Scouters and scan its power level.

The Art

dragon ball new age power up

The art of Dragon Ball New Age is beautiful.

Malik does a great job of emulating Toriyama’s style and capturing the feel of the characters. From their muscular bodies to the facial expressions and movements, it (almost) feels like you’re looking at Dragon Ball Z.

This isn’t easy to do. He’s obviously been so inspired by Toriyama’s art style that he made it his own.

My only complaint is that the backgrounds are sparse. Most of the panels have empty backgrounds or the battle grounds are in a wasteland.

The result is that the emphasis is on the characters’ upper bodies and faces, and not on environments. So if you’re not already familiar with the Dragon World, you may be left wanting more or wondering where these characters are in relation to their surroundings.

Toriyama did the same thing on occasion, so I can’t fault Malik too much, but I’d like to see more detail there.

The other thing is that the energy and spirit is a little different. It looks like Toriyama’s art, but doesn’t feel 100% like his art. You know what I mean? That ‘Dragon Ball energy’ that you get when reading it?

Even so, it’s close. And in the times that the energy does come through, it’s a thrill!

Overall the art has simple, clean lines, and beautiful illustrations. It’s enjoyable to look at and the action is intense.

Which brings me to the writing.

The Writing

dragon ball new age action

It takes skill to write something exciting. It takes skill to write something funny. But it takes a genius level of talent to write something that is both exciting and funny.

That’s what Toriyama did with Dragon Ball. Can Malik do the same?

Malik is a huge fan of the series, so he understands the Dragon World and knows these characters well. His extension of the Dragon Ball Z story is logical and well thought out.

The plot is straightforward, with a new bad guy landing on earth and causing a ruckus. So to make it interesting he uses the in-universe characters that you know and then adds new layers to their histories. Such as with the introduction of a new set of black dragon balls and a few mysteries you’ll be curious to discover.

The story takes place 3 years after the end of Dragon Ball GT, but with a twist. Malik takes some of the concepts established in GT that fans like, such as Super Saiyan 4, but then negates all of the problem areas. So if you like the ideas presented in GT but don’t like how they were executed in the anime, then you’re in for a treat.

The result is a familiar setting with familiar characters fighting new and exciting battles. And if you’re a fan of Dragon Ball Z, you’ll feel right at home.

Sounds great, right?

dragon ball new age rigor

For the most part, it is. However, it’s not as fun to read as Toriyama’s Dragon Ball.

The original has jokes on almost every page, the action keeps moving forward, there’s little exposition, and it has a combination of light heartedness and suspense, with a feeling of, “What’s going to happen next?!”

Malik’s fan manga has the action part covered, and there are a couple jokes. But the initial set up of the plot is weighed down by a couple pages of exposition at the start. It’s a lot to take in at first, especially if you don’t know the original story.

dragon ball new age volume 1 introduction

I can understand the need to do this, as he has to explain how his story is different from Z or GT. But I think it would be more engaging to let the action speak for itself.

Consider that Toriyama’s beginning of the story is the middle of the story. He drops you into the middle of the action, with lives that are already active and a part of their worlds. Then they collide and interact. You don’t know what’s going on or who these people are, and you figure it out along the way. That’s what makes it so fun.

It’s tempting to put a lot of exposition up front, but I think it’s more interesting to not have those questions answered in the beginning, and to explain them as the plot develops across the chapters. Make the reader curious to know more.

Aside from this initial prologue, Malik does do a decent job of revealing bits of the plot amid the fights.

Though it’s still not as funny, and the emphasis is more on getting to the big fight.

To make a comparison to DBZ, I’d say it’s similar to the Namek arc.

It’s not about the comedy, it’s about the fighting. Though maybe that’s what you’re looking for.

dragon ball new age fighting

That’s my only gripe, and it’s more of constructive criticism than a complaint.

But in my opinion it’s important, because it’s this charm that makes people want to read Dragon Ball again and again.

So there is untapped potential here, and it makes me excited to see how the story itself transforms in Volume 2.

Power Level

dragon ball new age history of rigor

What does the Scouter say about Dragon Ball New Age’s power level?

Art: 4.5 / 5

Writing: 3.5 / 5

Overall: 4 / 5

Conclusion

dragon ball new age ki blast

Dragon Ball New Age – Volume 1 is a successful tribute to Akira Toriyama’s masterpiece, an exciting continuation of the original story, and a worthwhile addition to your library.

You get 100 pages of beautiful illustrations and battles in your favorite world, for only $5.99.

If you’re looking for more Dragon Ball Z excitement, then you can’t go wrong with Dragon Ball New Age.



15 responses to “Dragon Ball New Age – Volume 1”

  1. Frank Einar Josep Haugen says:

    I actually hadn’t thought about this lacking humor because I get so immersed into the action.

  2. Rob Murphy says:

    Great review! DNA is one of the best fan fiction out there nd I think your review will dot the I’s and cross the t’s. And the print is amazing for 5 bucks!!!

  3. Marianne says:

    Hi Derek,

    I can see what you mean when you mentioned how you use Akira Toriyama’s work as a standard. At first look, I know there was something different about the work. They are certainly drawn to fit look like the original and I respect and amaze that at the same time. Then, I noticed the English words, “WOK”, “VAAA”, “WOOM”. If this were Akira’s work, of course they would be written in Japanese. When I was reading the manga, I didn’t even take note of those “action or motion words”, They’re just long and short lines to me that means almost nothing but to help the reader “hear” the sounds while reading. I can imagine the sound of a vehicle or a spaceship when it’s taking off. since those Japanese “action or motion words” are written right beside those flying objects or vehicles. Reading the Dragon Ball New Age page samples made that difference. Now, I can understand what those sounds mean — I’m not just looking at Japanese writing. I’m grateful he published his work in America.

    Regards,

    Marianne

    • DerekPadula says:

      Good observation, Marianne. It didn’t register in my mind before, but you’re right.

      It’s true that Toriyama did mostly use Japanese lettering, since he wrote for a Japanese audience. However, did you know that Toriyama actually got the job writing manga for Shueisha because he wrote some of his sound effects in English? In 1977 when he submitted his first manga to Shueisha’s monthly author contest, he didn’t win the prize, but an editor, Kazuhiko Torishima, took note of his English lettering. Toriyama’s lettering was so different from the competition that it stood out. Then Torishima-san personally called Toriyama and told him to send in more work, because he felt he had potential. Over 500 pages of submissions later, and Toriyama finally got published in 1978, with Wonder Island.

      So while the lettering of sound effects may seem like a small detail, it’s what allowed Toriyama to get his foot in the door. Without those sound effects, there’d be no Dragon Ball series today.

      • Marianne says:

        Wow! Akira Toriyama got a job on Shueisha because he wrote English action/motion words? What a twist of fate! Now, English-speaking people are wanting, buying, and desiring Japanese manga because they’re the original! No wonder his works are running for almost thirty years! English-speaking and Japanese-speaking audience keep reliving and reliving Dragon Ball and his other comic creations! Thank you for that insightful description of Mr. Toriyama’s life!

        Marianne

  4. Sūn Wùkōng says:

    Dragon Ball GT will always have a special place within my Heart — soon purchase to support Toriyama Sensei tribute Manga! :+) ~

  5. Nick Betting says:

    Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I’ve burned through all the existing DBNA material in a day and immediately ordered this book. It’s such high quality fan art, simply amazing.

  6. Edgar Farrar says:

    i would say dragon balll new age is tribute for dragon ball legacy

  7. Joop says:

    Except that this dude has conpletely given up on continuing Dragon Ball New Age. If he had any compassion about his fans.. he would have continued the main story. But No, he instead keeps whining about the fact that he’s not making enough money! So much for caring about your audience.. Sigh.

    • TheWay says:

      He doesn’t care about his fans who want him to continue the main series, he instead keeps blammering on about his money issues like a little bitch.

      For how many months has this series been on a hiatus for now?? Oh wait, for how many YEARS!

      Exactly!

      • DerekPadula says:

        It’s not true that Terry has given up on the series. He is releasing Volume 4 of Dragon Ball New Age in print right now. I just spoke with him about it last night.

        It is true that Terry is poor and struggles to survive. I share a booth with him each year at the Youmacon artist alley, and I’m aware of his financial situation. In addition, he only sells each book for $5 at the con, which is barely enough to pay for his hotel room and travel expenses if he sells well.

        I suggested he increase the price of the books, but the problem is that Dragon Ball fans tend to be poor, or at least miserly, and he believes they won’t pay more for each volume. He keeps the cost low so that Dragon Ball fans can afford to enjoy his art.

        So he’s stuck in a situation where he has to work a job he doesn’t like and that takes up all of his time and energy in order to survive, when he’d rather be drawing his manga. Yet he still works on it whenever he can.

        I don’t think he’s whining. I think he is telling his fans why he isn’t as productive as he otherwise would be if he were financially stable. If they’re complaining about a lack of new content, then he has to tell them something, right? That is more compassionate than saying nothing.

        If you want to see more, then buy his manga in print, share it with your friends, or support him on Patreon. If enough people do that, then the situation will change.

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